Sobota, 19 ugustu 2006 o.

Little hope for cooperation after September elections

by our political correspondent, Piotr Szemica

With the elections for the Sejm only fifteen days ahead, Veneda is witnessing a campaign of unprecedented vileness. Indeed, much is at stake for both government and opposition. If the political right will succeed in repeating the success it had in the elections for the Sejm of the Republic in September last year, that will work out favourably for the Aldendorf government. Chancellor Aldendorf will feel stronger, because he knows himself supported by the population, but he will also be stronger, because the government of Veneda and the Republic will in all likeliness be of the same political colour. If, on the other hand, the elections show that the support for the Aldendorf government is declining, it may loose much so much of its moral authority that it will not be able to rule the country as energetically has it has until now.

This much is clear: the days of the centre-left coalition of prime minister Floręć Drakoń are numbered. In spite of the fact that the general opinion about his government has been fairly positive over the last four years, the Veneds are massively moving to the opposition. “Every time when there are elections in Veneda it is the same thing”, the sociologist prof. Onute Staniszkiene comments. “There are two dominant tendencies in the people's voting behaviour that will probably never change. First of all, people always tend to vote for the opposition. And secondly, no matter how good or bad Veneda's government has done its job, their judgement is always primarily conditioned by their opinion about the doings of the republican government.”

The polls of the last months show an increasing support for the parties that form the nucleus of the Aldendorf government. The ŻŻŻ, the great winner of September last year, is expected to become even more successful this time. Its support is estimated between 14 and 18 %. Four years ago, the parties that now constitute the ŻŻŻ together managed to collect no more than 6.5 % of the votes. The DN, good for 6.8 % of the votes in 2002, will now probably gain 8 – 10 % of the votes, while Sułodziefięca is expected to grow from a bare 1.1 % to 7 – 9 %. On the other hand, every single party that is part of Drakoń's coalition is expected to lose heavily. Drakoń's own UD-DS will probably fall back from 13.9 % to 4 – 6 % of the votes, the WWPS from 13.2 % to 4 – 5 %, the BR from 10,0 % to 7 – 9 %, the BNSP from 4.1 % to ca. 2 %, and the UŁ from 3.7 % to 1 – 2 %.

The parties that form the Drakoń government are defending themselves vigoriously against the attacks from their opponents. They credit themselves for the fact that Veneda has prospered economically over the last years, and keep pointing out that under their rule Venedic politics have been extraordinarily quiet and stable. Opponents of the government argue that the Drakoń government has been little more than an extension of the Sacz government. “All Drakoń has done was carrying out the orders of the chancellor”, ŻŻŻ leader Kazimierz Janać says, “and his government has been marked by the same indecisiveness. Once Sacz and his cronies had been sent home by the people, there was no more big daddy to hide behind, and the government hasn’t been heard from since.”

The campaigns have been extraordinary hard this year. They focus on three issues: the so-called “Third Republic” as promoted by the right, the Galician issue, and Florida.

Nobody knows precisely what this “Third Republic” stands for. Opponents of the ŻŻŻ and the Aldendorf government prefer to call it “Janacizm”, which in their opinion is not a coherent ideology, but merely a collection of populist slogans about Catholic conservatism, nationalism, centralism, reintroduction of the death penalty, fighting corruption, political and economic isolationism, and an almost authoritarian power for the chancellor. Janać himself speaks of a “thorough restructuring of the foundations of the Republic”. He wants to get rid altogether of the situation, in which Veneda and the Republic both have their own parliament and government. “This construction has proven completely unworkable. I’m not saying we need to abolish Veneda's and Lithuania's institutions altogether, but at least we should work on a clearer delineation of their respective authorities, preventing them from constantly running into each other.”

Among the other changes the ŻŻŻ hopes to implement, once it is in charge both in Veneda and in the Republic, is introducing an election threshold. “This is another thing that has to end”, Janać says. “Every Sejm consists of thirty or forty parties at least. Therefore, it is always hard or even impossible to form a stable government that it supported by a solid majority. We should work towards a solution where only parties that really count are represented in parliament. An election threshold can do that. And, such a construction will automatically force parties with similar ideologies to gather their forces, and it will keep us from constantly creating new parties over minor issues.” Efforts to establish an election threshold have been made multiple times in the past, but could never be effectuated because the parties that supported it always disagreed about the precise terms.

The second hot issue in the elections is the status of Galicia. On 25 November 2004, a referendum organised by the Galician High Council resulted in a huge majority in favour of a merger of Galicia with the province of Volhynia. Although neither the government of Veneda nor that of Lithuania have ever recognised the outcome of the plebiscite, Drakoń's government has generally been tolerant of Galicia's endeavours. The right, however, has different plans for Galicia. The only right-wing party that openly supports the Ukrainians in their autonomist tendencies is the KRN. The ŻŻŻ however plans to get rid of Galicia as a separate administrative layer and intends to reduce it to a socio-culural body only. The DN and Sułodziefięca want to abolish Galician autonomy altogether. To the Ruthenians of Galicia, this is a major threat. The RNDO has been mobilising all its forces to give counterweight, but even if all Ruthenes would vote unanimously for the opposition, that would hardly be enough to block any such decision in the Venedic Sejm. Besides, the lack of progress and the ethnic tension in Volhynia has caused a radicalisation among the Ruthenes. Support for the moderate RNDO has gradually been declining, and more radical organisations like the FUN have been growing considerably during the last two years.

At last, our Florida policies play an important role as well. Although technically Florida falls outside Veneda's jurisdiction, it has become a major issue in the elections. Again, there is a strong opposition between the right, which favours an intensification of the Republic's presence in the Zona, if not its outright colonisation, and the left, which favours a quick withdrawal of the Republic from Florida. Even though the Venedic Sejm will hardly be able to influence the Republic's policies regarding Florida, a victory of the right will inevitably be treated as a vote of confidence for chancellor Aldendorf's colonisation plans.

All in all, the overall dichotomy between the left and the right has never been so great as in these elections. With fifteen more days to go, the campaigns have already made it more than clear that the two will not be able to cooperate with each other for a very long time. Veneda seems to have only two options: either a prolongation of the centre-left government of prime minister Floręć Drakoń, or a conservative-nationalist coalition similar to the Aldendorf government. Whatever the outcome of the elections on September 3 will be, it will deeply affect the very foundations of the Republic.